Kicking off my self-taught German lessons with a French-German flammkuchen


(That’s German for “I want to learn German so badly”)

I know it might not be the most practical language, but it is definitely the most fun. And by fun, I mean expressive, angry and passionate. You could be telling your puppy how cute it is and it would still sound like you were furious.

The flammkuchen and fall colours

When in Austria this past summer, I was surrounded by everything German (including delicious bratwurst hot dogs). I found myself able to understand a few of the signs, since English is like bastardized German. Seriously, take an English word, tack about 10 letters on to the front and/or back and mess it around a bit and you have the original German term.

Take for example my two favourites:
– Apfelstrudel = apple strudel
– Schokolade = chocolate

Cool, right? I swear the translation rule also applies to words outside the realms of food, but you know me. It’s all about the dessert.

Anyways, my Austrian adventures were only my first inspiration for this meal.

My second inspiration can be credited to a meal I had at The Lindenhof, a German restaurant in Ottawa’s Little Italy neighbourhood. The trip was just one stop on a moveable feast I attended and wrote about for the blog Local Tourist Ottawa. I could explain all about the gluttonous eve that transpired, but just click the link instead. One thousand words detailing a night of culinary wonder.

Anyways, at The Lindenhof we were served flammkuchen, the very meal that inspired the creation of this pizza-like dinner. According to Alison, the owner of the restaurant, flammkuchen literally translates to mean “flaming tarte.” Another thing I learned was that the tarte is technically a French specialty, originating in the Alsace region of the country. To be fair, the area used to belong to Germany before the end of WWI. Close enough.

The flammkuchen at The Lindenhof

Alison’s thin-crust flammkuchen had a special smoked cheese, bacon and caramelized onions.

And so, rather than trying to create some sort of spin-off adaptation of The Lindenhof’s flammkuchen (why fix something that isn’t broken?), I decided to use the toppings on their pizza to create my own. I’m also at home this weekend, and wanted to make a meal that was familiar enough that my family would still eat it. A pizza dinner is always a safe bet.

After frantically searching the interwebs for a recipe for crème fraiche (which was sold everywhere in Europe, but is nowhere to be found here) and flammkuchen, I was relieved to stumble on Smitten Kitchen’s recipe. Not only is the blog one of my favourites, but it finally offered an alternative to the impossible-to-find creme fraiche. The answer? Half ricotta and half sour cream. Brilliant.

This was a great dinner and super fast to make. It got rave reviews from my family. Even though my dad kept called pancetta “principessa” (the Italian word for princess), I knew he enjoyed it. He did steal lots of princesses off my plate, after all.

PS: I also blame Inglorious Basterds and a fierce Diane Kruger/Melanie Laurent for fuelling my desire to learn German. Thanks a lot, Tarantino.

PPS: if using this recipe, you should note that it made a hell of a lot of pizza. How much? One rectangular cookie sheet and one 9-inch round pizza worth. I recommend you go halfsies if making this just for yourself.

Enough freshly-made pizza dough to feed a small army

Recipe: Flammkuchen
Dough recipe
Adapted from Breadmaker cookbook
– 1 1/2 cup water
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 tbsp sugar
– 2 tbsp butter or margarine
– 4 1/2 cup all purpose flour
– 2 tsp breadmaker yeast

Put the ingredients in your breadmaker in this order and follow the machine’s instructions. Without a breadmaker, I normally use Canadian Living’s pizza dough recipe. If you do use this recipe, however, make sure you half the ingredients below since it doesn’t make as much dough! 

Flammkuchen toppings
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
– 1 tbsp olive oil
–  2 onions, thinly sliced
–  3/4 cup ricotta cheese
– 3/4 cup full fat sour cream
– 1 tbsp flour
– 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
– Pinch of salt
– 300 grams pancetta, chopped

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a non-stick skillet, heat oil and fry onions until softened and beginning to caramelize, about 7-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the ricotta, sour cream, salt, pepper and flour. Mix until smooth.

Chop the pancetta.

Once the pizza dough has risen and you have rolled it onto your pan or pizza stone, spread the ricotta mixture generously over the base. Evenly distribute the caramelized onions over top. Put the pancetta on top. At this point, it will look like the pancetta is taking over everything, but don’t worry because it will shrink down once put in the oven.

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes or until crust turns golden and the edges of the onions are browning.

Makes about 10 servings.


11 thoughts on “Kicking off my self-taught German lessons with a French-German flammkuchen

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